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Perot Calls Gulf Deployment a Ploy : Politics: Former presidential candidate accuses Clinton Administration of moving troops to bolster November election results.

October 10, 1994|EDWIN CHEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Calling President Clinton "a draft dodger," a combative and prickly Ross Perot on Sunday accused the White House of springing news of ominous Iraqi troop movements as a ploy to bolster Democratic popularity as the November elections approach.

"It's the most cynical thing in the world," the 1992 independent presidential candidate said. "It is rotten. It is wrong."

Referring to the current U.S. intervention in Haiti, Perot, playing the role of a fictitious Clinton adviser, said: "The first war didn't get him a bump in the polls, now let's try a second one."

To back up his charges, the Texas businessman asserted that the President and his national security team "have known this (the Iraqi troop movements) for weeks," assuming, he added, that "the CIA is not dead and buried."

Interviewed on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation," Perot also offered his prescription for defusing the mounting tensions along the Iraq-Kuwait border:

"Just tap him (Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein) on the shoulder quietly and say: 'Don't do anything tricky--because we've got unlimited unmanned missiles, unmanned drones. We will wipe your country out. We did it once, we'll do it again.' "

If that tactic failed, Perot had a ready alternative: the assassination of Hussein.

"Saddam Hussein is the problem. Eliminate the problem, and your problem goes away," he said.

Perot, who is re-emerging in the political arena after an unsuccessful personal campaign against the North American Free Trade Agreement, did not address the morality of political assassinations. But he left little doubt that he believed in the efficacy of such action.

Referring to U.S. bombing raids against Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi during the 1980s, Perot noted: "We didn't kill him, but have you heard from him since? This guy has repented, been reborn. He's a choirboy in the Middle East."

An April 15, 1986, U.S. bombing raid on Tripoli killed 38 people, including Kadafi's 15-month-old adopted daughter, Hana.

Perot also called the President's top advisers "a lightweight crowd" and made unsubstantiated allegations that Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is a drug dealer--and that he has misappropriated millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Rick Newcombe, director of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, could not be reached Sunday for a response. A White House spokesman refused to comment on Perot's charges.

Aside from his shrill tone, Perot's remarks stand out because critics of a President usually tone down their attacks during a time of heightened tensions. But Perot was unapologetic.

"This whole thing with Saddam Hussein is a tiny little event. Don't suddenly turn this into a worldwide media event just as you come to an election. That's what I'm saying," he said.

"We're going to pay with our sons' and daughters' lives if he (Clinton) stumbles into something else stupid."

Turning to a reporter on the program, Perot snapped: "You're saying: 'Why are you being so harsh?' Some great young person with stars in his eyes, wearing the uniforms of the United States, will have his life put at risk by people who don't know what they're doing."

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